To celebrate independence this year, we decided to take a trip. What? you say? Didn’t you just get BACK from a trip?
But this trip was to celebrate K’s independence and her externship at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. We’d never been there before, and it gave us an excuse to take the whole family (even the poor Cabana Boy, who missed the whole Wild West adventure) away for a weekend.
After several weeks looking at mountains, one would think we’d seen it all. But no. The Great Smoky Mountains are very different from everything we saw out West.
Deciduous trees are liberally mixed with pines and other vegetation, including the landscape-devouring kudzu.
As we crossed through the tip of Tennessee and continued on into the mountains of North Carolina, we started to see once again the smoky layers of blue-gray peaks in the distance. Beautiful.
We arrived about dark on Friday night, just in time to head downtown to the weekly drum circle held in Pritchard Park:
Anyone with a drum can join in; I left my set of bongos with K so she can become part of the music any time she’d like.
We were astounded that there was so much life downtown even at 11 p.m. We stopped at Kilwin’s for incredible late night ice cream, and then walked around the Grove Arcade, just window shopping and enjoying music on all sides.
Saturday morning we headed out to the Biltmore Estate. Even more incredible in person than from the pictures I’d seen, the castle itself is huge. K told us much about it, and we walked through the gardens, the large conservatory, saw the petting farm and ate in K’s current restaurant assignment, The Stable:
We met her chef, who had nice things to say about her, and we got a look at the loft space where K and her fellow pastry chefs make their magic.
The vistas on all sides held those smoky blue mountain tops. The estate stretches as far as can be seen. I loved the pergolaed garden walks:
The flowers and plants were beautiful:
As the day heated up, so did we and we took an air-conditioned break at the mall before our dinner at Havana in the Grove Arcade, the best Cuban food we’ve had since El Rancho Luna in Little Havana, Miami. Three thumbs up for ceviche, ropa vieja, empanadas and much more.
Sadly we said good night to K after a wonderful day. She’s got early work tomorrow and we have a long drive. But it was great to explore a whole new area of the country and see how she’s doing in her new grown-up life.